Leaders. What should you be focussing on in your own development?

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You may have heard about the Johari window before. It seems to be most often used to frame feedback discussions. I certainly learned it as a tool to frame 360° feedback reports and left it there. It was only later I realised how incredible this tool is for examining how a leader leads and where to focus improvement.

I first thought Johari sounded like a spiritual concept from ancient Eastern philosophy. I was somewhat disappointed when I found out that Johari is merely a mixture of the names of its creators, Joseph Luft and Harry Ingham!

The model divides communication and interaction into four areas. These are:

* Arena (Known to me and to others)

* Façade (Known only to me)

* Blind Spot (Known only to others)

* Unknown (Known neither to me nor to others)

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It’s estimated that over 80% of leadership success is derived from emotional intelligence as opposed to IQ and the key ingredient for developing emotional intelligence is self-awareness so we want the smallest Blind Spot possible. It’s no surprise then that the most successful leaders have the largest Arenas – Known to Self and Known to Others.

One way they achieve this aside from self-exploration is by regularly asking others for genuine feedback. In this way, they are continually looking for and reducing any blind spots. They don’t wait for a 360° feedback survey.

Of course, 360° feedback surveys are incredibly useful. If you haven’t had one for a few years it’s a good idea to ask why. Psychometrics also hugely helpful here. They’re great development tools, shining a light in the Blindspot. They’re not just for selection purposes though often their use is restricted to just that.

Transparency I believe, is a hugely important part of leadership. Transparency builds trust. People need to know what their leader is thinking to gain clarity and feel safe. This is another reason I encourage my coachees to expand their Arenas and reduce their ‘Hidden’ pane. This is especially true for those with a preference for Introversion. I’m not saying that we can’t have private lives but people want to know what a leader stands for and what you’re thinking. Especially what’s relevant in their context.

Sharing stories is a great wayexpand the Arena and shrink the Façade. I experienced onwho was renowned for his story-telling. So much so that some people would joke about him always having to share at least one story whenever he spoke. I’ll tell you one thing about him though. Everyone knew what he stood for and why would follow him.

The consequences of a Façade that remains large are confusion and a lack of trust in those around a leader, peers just as much as reports.

So instead of expanding your horizons, expand your Arenas.

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